Anti-racism graffiti on Rotterdam statues, art center
A group of activists left graffiti on the statues of Piet Hein and Pim Fortuyn and on the Witte de With art center in Rotterdam. The vandalism was meant as criticism on "the glorification of Dutch colonialism and the martyrdom of Pim Fortuyn," the group said on social media. "We demand rejection of these unjust 'heroes' and we criticize the collective memory of Dutch history, because murderers, exploiters and fascist politicians are not worthy of a monument!"
The group calls itself "Helden van Nooit", which translates to "Heroes of Never". They targeted monuments to people who day believe do not deserve to be given a pedestal.
The words "killer" and "dief", Dutch for 'thief', were spray painted on the Piet Hein statue on Delfshaven. According to the group, Piet Pietersz Hein was a key figure in paving the way for transatlantic human trafficking of enslaved West Africans. "A murderer and a thief who stole from societies around the world. Hein does not belong on a pedestal, because Hein has never been a hero."
On the statue of Pim Fortuyn, the activists painted the words, translated from Dutch: "Do not pay tribute to racism." According to the activists, the populist politician, who was shot dead in 2002, was "the first overt embodiment of gay-nationalism in the Netherlands". He used LGBTQ rights as a tool to justify Islamopohbia and to demonize and suppress Islamic communities, according to the group. The group also pointed out that LGBTQ people who are not European and white are left out of the freedoms gay-nationalists claim to be fighting for. "Fortuyn should not be exalted because Fortuyn has never been a hero."
And on the Witte de With art center on Witte de Withstraat, the activists left hand prints in red paint on the walls to represent the colonial violence committed by Witte de With. The group called him a "colonial terrorist who in the 17th century appeased Dutch power and greed by subjecting others to terror and contributing to the start of the transatlantic human trafficking in enslaved people". "De With does not deserve immorality in our current street scene. Not as a street name. Not as a denominator of a cultural institution. Not as a hero. Because De With has never been a hero."
According to the Helden van Nooit, the glorification of De With "illustrates the culture of colonial 'amnesia'. This colonial amnesia is part of the institutional racism that suppresses black and non-black communities of color to date."